David Overton's Blog and Discussion Site
This site is my way to share my views and general business and IT information with you about Microsoft, IT solutions for ISVs, technologists and businesses, large and small.  

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  • Upgrade Windows XP/Vista/7 to Windows 8 Pro for $40 or £25 AND Media Center Pack for free – until 31st January

    This is a simple offer. Download the upgrade assistant from Microsoft, run the tool, purchase the license for a shockingly low price and get the benefits of Windows 8. Even if you think you might not use it for a year, you can burn the ISO so it is ready. All indications are that the price will increase once this offer expires. So, what is the processes? Go to the web site - http://windows.microsoft.com/en-GB/windows/buy (UK) or http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/buy (US) Press the Download link - Download Pro for £24.99 ERP (UK) or Download Pro for $39.99 ERP (US) ) - note the link is the same for any country for the assistant. Run the assistant and fill in the details, including the purchase options There is also one other thing you may wish to consider. Getting the currently free Media Center Pack. This is also very simple, go to http://windows.microsoft.com/en-gb/windows-8/feature-packs (UK) http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows-8/feature-packs (US), enter your e-mail address and get a free...
  • Windows Intune book update

    Well, I’ve finally finished the drafts for all chapters of the soon to be published book called Microsoft Windows Intune, Quickstart Administration . It would have been sooner if my lovely mother had not fallen ill and passed away. I don’t regret the delay in finishing the book, but that we had so little time in the end and that she was not here to see it finish. The book is now awaiting review and editorial updates before it is finally published. Update - 2/10/2010 - Since the launch of Windows Intune V2 is so close, I'm updating to V2 now. This means that you can no longer access the work in progress chapters. I hope to resolve this in a few weeks time. The book has undergone some structural changes while I was writing it. The chapters are now: 1. Overview of Cloud Computing 2. Introduction to PC Management Concepts 3. Overview of Windows Intune Features 4. Signing up for Intune and installing the client software 5. Configuring Windows Intune 6. Configuring management policy 7. Tracking and reporting...
  • Windows and other products coming End of Support information

    Microsoft has an industry leading support lifecycle for it's products with business software generally getting 10 years support and consumer products 5 years, but even then the end of support surprises some individuals and you need to be aware to ensure you are not caught out.  Our support also requires people to adopt service packs within 12-24 months of them being released, depending on the products. here along with all the obsolete products here. Why do I mention all this now, after all, this is not new information, well, we have some significant Windows End of Support (EoS) dates coming up.  With these date looming reminding your customers that moving to Windows 7 and utilizing the many features built into the product can help you achieve simplier support and them a more secure and compliant platform for your users, reduce your help desk costs, and increase performance and reliability for your end users. Remember that a Windows 7 user can record the steps of a problem and send them through to...
  • Windows 7 appreciation continues to grow

    I saw these three articles and thought I would share.  How are you getting on with Windows 7?  And for those who say that Vista adoption was very poor, it was not statistically different to that of Windows XP, so you can't just say "oh, that was Vista, XP was much better!" Adoption of Windows 7 Continues to Swell Computerworld - February 01, 2010 Windows 7 took just three months to reach a penetration benchmark that Windows Vista needed almost a year to reach, according to a report by NetApplications.   SMBs Step Up Plans to Adopt Windows 7 eWeek - February 02, 2010 Small and midsize businesses (SMBs) are accelerating plans to migrate to Windows 7, according to a global survey conducted by network management specialist Spiceworks.   Customer Satisfaction with Windows 7 Rises Bloomberg News - February 01, 2010 Microsoft has received a bigger boost in customer satisfaction from Windows 7 than Apple did from its most recent upgrade of Mac OS X, according to market research firm YouGov...
  • How to copy or archive files by year using the command line and robocopy

    I got this question via e-mail and decided I would post the answer here in a blog. (Updated 16th Feb 2017 with a typo correction) I want transfer all files created in Office Word 2003 by year (annual batchs - ex: 2005, 2006, etc.) to external HD. How can to do this? I will appreciate your answer. Edgar To do this via the command line you can use Robocopy which is present in Windows Vista and Windows 7. If you have Windows XP download the Server 2003 Resource Toolkit and install it. Robocopy will be part of the install and found in the install directory. The actual command would look like this and would need to be entered into a command prompt: for /L %x in (2009,-1,2000) do robocopy source destination \%x *.doc? /maxage:%x0101 /minage:%x1231 /s To break it down a bit.. for /L %x in (2009,-1,2000) do This creates a counter from 2009 up in steps of -1 (or down in steps of 1) until 2000 is reached. Each time the counter changes it is set into %x, so %x will become 2009, 2008 and so on. It then executes the command...
  • Internet Explorer security vulnerability fix now available – think of it as an early Christmas present… now about Firefox’s 3 issues this week…

    I think everyone knows that an urgent security issue has arisen in IE this week and Microsoft has taken the (wise) decision to publish a fix outside the normal 2nd Tuesday release cycle. Some have said switch browser because of this issue, but not only can that be complex, but most browsers suffer security issues so once again the only real protection is to wrap in cotton wool and hide. Or, use the built in features of Vista and IE7/8 which means protected mode and NOT running as admin. You might ask why a Christmas present? Well, if this continued un-patched then your information is seriously at risk and that would make for a very bad Christmas if your credit card information was stolen!! Either way, if you have IE on your systems then you will need to update your systems urgently. Of course, my Hyper-V server (or Windows Core for that matter) don’t have IE, so no updates for them!!! Just for completeness, here is the information from the Technet newsletter Internet Explorer Security Update I wanted to...
  • Connect Manager for VPNs into SBS 2008 …er, not really, with CMAK information too

    [updated with “roll your own” information and how to make a 32-bit version of the exe file] I love it when people challenge me to solve a question and today’s prize goes to Simon (thank-you for the questions Simon) who asked me where Connection Manager was on SBS 2008? You remember Connection Manager right, to auto configure the VPNs… Well, the instructions in SBS 2008 are a little less simple. Rather than downloading a pre-configured tool you now need to roll your own. The reasoning, which is quite sound, is that you can access almost everything via the Remote Web Workplace, but for some things, you want a VPN and the way to get it can be found here - http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc513974.aspx If you want to create a Connection Manager Install for SBS 2008 you need to add the CMAK to the SBS 2008 install. Go to Server Manager and click to add a feature. Install the CMAK by pressing Next. To start the kit, go to the Start Menu, Administrator Tools and then select Connection...
  • Important Microsoft security update – update your machines now!

    DavidOverton.com rebooted today due to an emergency security update – an “out of band” release from the normal “patch Tuesday” process.  It is worth considering updating and reboot your computers and servers asap.   More information on this can be found at http://www.microsoft.com/technet/security/bulletin/MS08-067.mspx .  Impacted systems below:   Operating System Maximum Security Impact Aggregate Severity Rating Bulletins Replaced by this Update Microsoft Windows 2000 Service Pack 4 Remote Code Execution Critical MS06-040 Windows XP Service Pack 2 Remote Code Execution Critical MS06-040 Windows XP Service Pack 3 Remote Code Execution Critical None Windows XP Professional x64 Edition Remote Code Execution Critical MS06-040 Windows XP Professional x64 Edition Service Pack 2 Remote Code Execution Critical None Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1 Remote Code Execution Critical MS06-040 Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 2 Remote Code Execution Critical None Windows Server 2003 x64 Edition Remote...
  • Performance monitoring tools to go with Windows Vista Magazine article

    In my latest article for Windows Vista Magazine I spoke about performance tuning a system and more importantly how to diagnose performance issues. One of the tools I recommend using to do this is the Windows Performance Tools kit. This can be found at http://www.microsoft.com/whdc/system/sysperf/perftools.mspx . It includes a getting started document. The tools are described as: The Windows Performance Tools (WPT) Kit contains performance analysis tools that are new to the Windows SDK for Windows Server 2008 and .NET Framework 3.5. The WPT Kit is useful to a broad audience, including system builders, hardware manufacturers, driver developers, and general application developers. These tools are designed for measuring and analyzing system and application performance on Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008, and later. The tools currently include an xperf trace capture tool, an xperfview visualization tool (also known as Performance Analyzer), and an xbootmgr boot trace capture tool. The tools are designed for the analysis...
  • Upgrade Windows Search to Version 4.0 and improve your PC (for Windows Vista, XP, Server 2003 and 2008)

    If you have have Office 2007 or a Windows Vista or Windows Desktop Search (WDS) then you probably have V2.6 or V3 of this fantastic search product. Version 4 has a wealth of updates, but most importantly, is more stable and faster. One of the things I love about this is that if you put this on a client and server, and then search a network share, if the contents are indexed on the server then WDS uses the remote index to search, making it super fast. It can even be used with SBS 2003 / 2008 to speed up access to the shares there too. Description of Windows Search 4.0 and the Multilingual User Interface Pack for Windows Search 4.0 Windows Search 4.0 Windows Search 4.0 lets you perform an instant search of your computer. Windows Search 4.0 helps you find and preview documents, e-mail messages, music files, photos, and other items on the computer. The search engine in Windows Search 4.0 is a Microsoft Windows service that is also used by programs such as Microsoft Office Outlook 2007 and Microsoft Office OneNote...
  • Mark's Blog : The Case of the System Process CPU Spikes

    One of my heroes and guiding lights for all things Windows “internals” is Mark Russinovich. He has his blog at http://blogs.technet.com/markrussinovich . Before being a Microsoft person Mark ran the very successful WinInternals / SysInternals businesses until he moved across. His tools can still be accessed by http://www.sysinternals.com or are part of the MDOP Software Assurance option. The Case of the System Process CPU Spikes As you’ve probably surmised by my blog posts and other writings, I like knowing exactly what my systems are doing. I want to know if a process is running away with the CPU, causing memory pressure, or hitting the disk. Besides keeping my computers running smoothly, my vigilance sometimes helps me spot performance and reliability problems in Windows and third-party code. The main way I keep tabs on things is to configure Process Explorer to run automatically when I log in. Whenever I configure a new computer, I add a shortcut to Process Explorer to my profile’s Start directory that includes...
  • This consumer operating systems stuff is harder than 1st thought – Red Hat and Novell no longer targeting consumers with desktop Linux

    I saw this and it made me smile – looks like building a desktop OS for consumers is harder than people thought :-) And I thought consumers were more willing to put in time to fiddle too, so that makes the enterprise play even less likely for me!! Red Hat skips consumer Linux desktop Red Hat has no plans to create a traditional desktop product for the consumer market, but will continue to place its bets on a desktop for commercial markets. "We are focused on infrastructure software for the enterprise market, and to that market we are offering the Red Hat Enterprise Linux Desktop," said Michael Chen, vice president of corporate marketing at Red Hat. "You need a different support ecosystem and applications for the consumer desktop," Chen added. Among the company's desktop goals for 2008 and 2009 is to ensure that its desktop products complement its server and middleware products, Red Hat said in a company blog post Wednesday. Red Hat's strategy is similar to that of Novell , which is currently...
  • Improved searching of Windows Servers (2003, 2008, SBS, Windows Home Server) and Windows desktops (Vista and XP) through the Windows Search 4.0 Preview which improves local and network searching

    There is a feature that I 1st found of Windows Home Server that can be applied to SBS, Windows Server, Windows Vista / XP and any other Windows system with Windows Search 3 or 4 on it. This feature is the ability to search the other machine’s index rather than the files, meaning that you can go to a file share and search 100s of GBs of files in a couple of seconds simply by using the Vista search box. The Search V4 Preview extends this ability to more versions of Windows. That is not all it does – see the note from the Windows Vista Team Blog : Announcing the Windows Search 4.0 Preview that has some information: Windows Search 4.0 introduces several improvements I'd like to call out making search even better in Windows Vista: With Windows Search 4.0, the Windows Search Team has fixed most of the reported bugs causing a majority of distractions users have seen since Windows Vista RTM - many of those bugs were reported by you. Great improvements have been made with regards to performance .Even now as Preview...
  • Latest news, events and downloads in the Security world from Microsoft - Windows Server 2008, Mobile, employee habits, Antigen, IPSEC, ForeFront, NAP, XP Firewall, System Center

    Each month the TRM blog product this great summary of the Microsoft world in various product areas. The blog can be found here http://blogs.technet.com/trm/ News Help your customers securely deploy Windows Server 2008 with the Windows Server 2008 Security Guide! http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=92550 Every day, adversaries attempt to invade your customers’ networks and access their servers—to bring them down, infect them with viruses, or steal information about customers or employees. Your customers are looking to Microsoft and Windows Server® 2008 to help them address these threats. To assist customers in taking full advantage of the rich security features in Windows Server 2008, Microsoft has developed the Windows Server 2008 Security Guide. The Windows Server 2008 Security Guide provides IT professionals with best practices, predefined security templates, and an automated deployment tool to help strengthen the security of servers running Windows Server 2008. Supporting Your Family, Friends, and Neighbours...
  • Technical RollUp : March 2008 - Technical Rollup Mail - Platforms (Windows, virtualisation, Active Directory, Core, Debugging, Terminal Services, Vista SP1 changes / new / implementation guides)

    As always, from the Technical RollUp : March 2008 - Technical Rollup Mail - Platforms blog posting. I've removed all the KB article stuff and it is worth pointing out that towards the end of the list are all the docs associated with what has changed with Windows Vista SP1: Blogs and information Windows Virtualization Team Blog http://blogs.technet.com/virtualization/ The World Simplified is a Virtual World http://blogs.technet.com/virtualworld/ Ask the Directory Services Team http://blogs.technet.com/askds/ Ask the Performance Team http://blogs.technet.com/askperf/ Microsoft Enterprise Networking Team http://blogs.technet.com/networking/ Ask the Core Team http://blogs.technet.com/askcore/ Microsoft Advanced Windows Debugging and Troubleshooting http://blogs.msdn.com/ntdebugging/ Terminal Services Team Blog http://blogs.msdn.com/ts/ The Hot Blog http://blogs.technet.com/hot/ Downloads Windows Server Update Services 3.0 SP1 Windows Server Update Services 3.0 Service Pack 1 (WSUS 3.0 SP1) delivers updates to...
  • Samba developers can now see the Windows Protocols, make their products more interoperable with Microsoft Windows and see where Patents are to then choose to avoid or license

    I have never been known to sugar coat my opinion and one that has been forming recently is that much of the EU work on opening the Windows Media player is undesired by the consumers or the industry. This is my opinion, but I've seen no evidence to the contra. However, the licensing of protocols, while I don't wholly agree with the pricing structure, I see it as a good thing. This is a classic example of a de-facto standard working how it should. Today yet another organisation licensed the protocols, this time for the Samba community (with restrictions on redistribution and patent awareness) and this should deliver the reality of "interoperability, not standards" that I personally feel is the true desire of the world. Update: Microsoft to hand over Windows secrets to Samba team | InfoWorld | News | 2007-12-20 | By Robert McMillan, IDG News Service Developers of open-source Samba software will find their work a little easier thanks to an agreement with Microsoft, signed Thursday, that will give...
  • Post Install Issues with MS07-069 (IE6 on XPSP2) - Internet Explorer 6 crashes on launch

    Just a quick one for those of you on XP SP2 with the latest security updates. There is a risk of seeing IE start crashing following this update. You have two choices: Don't install the security update - always a bad idea Install the update and deploy a registry fix to solve the problem. The IE team have documented it at Post Install Issues with MS07-069 (IE6 on XPSP2) After downloading the Internet Explorer Cumulative Security Update for December 2007, some customers using IE6 on Windows XP Service Pack 2 have experienced an unexpected crash or hang upon launching Internet Explorer. This might occur while navigating to a website hosting considerable media content (for example: http://msn.com ) resulting in Internet Explorer displaying a dialog that states “Internet Explorer has experienced a problem and needs to close”. If you experience this issue, implement the applicable workaround provided in the following knowledge base article: Microsoft Knowledge Base article 946627 For your security, we strongly recommend...
  • More on Vista vs XP performance - why doesn't everyone want a racing car, but instead do they opt for safety, comfort or even the ability to have more than one passenger?

    Having been quotes by Vlad and others (or was this others? ), some more views worth reading here and some Windows Blog stuff here I thought I had better make myself a bit clearer. 1st off, this is MY opinion, not something that is sanctioned or designed by anyone else in Microsoft. I did benchmarking for 5 years and won plenty of business by it, but I also understand when a test is Apples to Apples and not Apples to Oranges. If the purpose of Vista was to be the fastest engine for Office 2003 (as was the test), then there is a lot that can be done to the product to make that happen, but that was not the goal, so testing it on that one goal and then saying it fails is a bit poor. You can turn off the new features that "slow" it down if you want, but then you don't get the feature. My car accelerates faster with the air-con turned off, but on hot days, being comfortable is more important that the acceleration, so I opt to go slightly slower rather than get there just a bit quicker. There is more to...
  • Vista SP1 beta vs XP SP3 beta and performance - what a load of old <insert your favourite derogatory term here>

    I saw the article at ZDNet ( Windows XP outshines Vista in benchmarking test - ZDNet UK ) and at various other places and decided to comment. It compares a 1GB XP machine and a 1GB Vista machine and says that Vista is slower - both using beta service packs. This article links back to the blog of a certain benchmarking company ( http://exo-blog.blogspot.com/2007/11/windows-xp-sp3-yields-performance-gains.html ) and the result was an article with quotes in it like: "Vista, both with and without SP1, performed over two times slower than XP with SP3 in the test, taking over 80 seconds to complete the test, compared to the beta SP3-enhanced XP's 35 seconds. Vista's performance with the service pack increased less than two percent compared to performance without SP1 — much lower than XP's SP3 improvement of 10 percent." Now this annoyed me twice. So did they turn off things like the pre-loading of applications, was this a fresh PC or one where the inbuilt tools could optimise themselves? Did they...
  • How to start a VPN automatically on boot with Windows

    My dad was asking me about a branch office solution where clients connected to the AD controller, but needed to VPN to get to the AD. My preferred option is to either have a VPN on the router or a DC in the branch office, but failing both of those, perhaps this is the answer? Starting a VPN automatically on boot with Windows XP I recently needed to figure out how to make a Windows XP machine connect to a particular VPN automatically on reboot, before anyone logged into the machine. I eventually managed to assemble bits and pieces of information floating around the net into a working solution to the problem, but it wasn’t completely addressed in any single location, so I thought I’d stick the details in my blog for other people to Google and use (if you found this blog entry useful, please add a comment and let me know!). The first thing I tried was to look for a property I could set on the VPN network connection to tell Windows that I wanted this connection to start automatically when the machine boots. I couldn...
  • For once a balanced review of the market and Windows Vista

    I am used to seeing reports that come from one end or another of the spectrum - either Vista is amazing and everyone else is stupid, or 70%+ of the worlds computers are still not running Vista, so it is an obvious flop. Obviously, given the view that there are now something like a billion PCs in the world, you can't expect them all to be running Vista. At the same time, Microsoft announcing that 88m people were now with Vista is a pretty strong indication that things are going the right way. The article at The balance sheet on Windows Vista | CNET News.com is very balanced on both sides. I thought that it could and would be useful to anyone discussing who should and should not run Windows Vista. Here is a except that hopefully gives you a flavour of both sides (much more by clicking the above link). I should point out that recently I have been contacted by NT4 and Windows 98 users :-) The company said it is seeing some positive signs on the business front, notably a rise in the number of businesses signing...
  • EU Pundits Want Windows-less PCs - I just want options

    I saw this and just thought it was very silly. I do need to point out that this is a personal opinion and not one that represents Microsoft or that of its employees. However I do think that this idea ranks right up there with "everyone should write their own software" which an certain Open Source advocate once said to me. So let me get this right, the reasons why people like pre-loaded software are: Machines can be turned on and used OEM supplied software is supported by the same people who supplied the hardware, so one stop show OEM software is great value and often less than retail software Drivers and add-on software are all provided in the box so no searching around to set the system up More tools in the box from 3rd party vendors No technical knowledge required to set up machine The reasons why OEMs like pre-loaded software are: Machine will be usable as soon as turned on making happy customers Easier to support a known installation configuration Financial incentive from some 3rd party software...
  • How to enable / disable / change the Task Manager on Windows Vista

    This question was asked in the forum, but after a bit of research I thought I would share this more broadly. Here is what I discovered: There is a group policy object to enable / disable task manager You can also replace the file that gets run when Task Manager is requested, but this is done using the debug options Group Policy to enable / disable For the Group Policy options, a quick search on Live Search takes me to http://www.infopackets.com/channels/en/windows/gazette/2003/20030821_enable_taskmanager_for_windows_2000_and_xp.htm which basically points to: Open Regedit Go to HKEY_CURRENT_USER -> Software \ Microsoft \ Windows \ CurrentVersion \ Policies \ System. Look for: DisableTaskMgr. Click on REG_DWORD. Value: 1=Enable this key (disables TaskManager) Value: 0=Disable (actually enables TaskManager) Replace Task Manager with another program Then for the how to replace the program you basically need to set the options for taskmgr.exe to replace it with another program using the debug options. This means...
  • IE 7 Update Drops WGA Validation Requirement

    I thought it was worth sharing this - IE 7 will be available to everyone, even those people who "have not paid" for their Windows XP OS. Many people seem to think this is purely an anti-firefox move ( http://www.websearchguide.ca/netblog/archives/006622.html ) IE 7 Update Drops WGA Validation Requirement Microsoft is making its Internet Explorer 7 browser available to all Windows XP users—even those using pirated software—and installation will no longer require that the operating system first be validated as genuine. The company said the move is about security and ecosystem safety, because if even one user in a network is not using the security enhancements provided in IE 7, that user places the entire network at risk. "Microsoft takes its commitment to help protect the entire Windows ecosystem seriously, and we're taking a step to help make consumers safer online. We feel the security enhancements to Internet Explorer 7 are significant enough that it should be available as broadly as possible...
  • Tool to modify UAC behaviour in Vista using Group Policy - BeyondTrust Privilege Manager

    I am one of those people who always leaves UAC enabled - I like to see when something (*cough* - Adobe Update - *cough*) wants to execute with admin privilege on my system and then get the choice as to whether to allow it or not. However, not everyone likes the choices that are presented by default with the GPOs ( Group Policy Objects ). Coming to the rescue are tools to help enhance these offerings, such as the Privilege Manager from BeyondTrust. Sometimes people forget that Microsoft is a platform for others to build on and this is no different. Their product enables pre-defining the responses to UAC based on a number of variables. While I have NOT tried the product, it is getting good reviews. You can however download an eval copy for free if you so desire. One thing to bear in mind is that when a tool like this is used, you weaken security - why, well, even if you use a SHA1 hash to work out if an application is safe or not, a clever hacker will use plugins, dll's etc to attack that product - it does not...

(c)David Overton 2006-18